Whenever you get back from a hiking and backpacking trip, it’s important to hang up your tent, backpack, footprint and other gear and let it dry off so that mildew doesn’t form on it. But mildew can also grow on gear that is stored in a damp place like your garage or basement, so you need to inspect your gear periodically to make sure you don’t have a problem.
Besides imparting a musty smell, mildew breaks down the materials in backpacks, tents, sleeping bags. bivy sacks or other backpacking gear, weakening them and making them more prone to rips and holes. You’ve probably spent some serious money buying this gear and its pays to take care of it.
Signs of Mildew
Mildew manifests itself as white or dark spots and can occur on all fabric types ranging from canvas and pack cloth to and polyester and silnylon. If you do nothing to treat mildew, it will eventually digest the clothing or gear it’s growing on and ruin it. As mildew spreads, it can also leave a stain on your gear and clothing which can be difficult to remove.
Stop Mildew from Spreading
In order to salvage mildewed gear, a simple first step is to stop the mildew from growing further. Move the gear to a dry location and expose it to sunlight. This will retard its spread until you can get around to killing the mildew and removing it permanently. Be careful not to expose the mildewed items too long to bright sunlight because the UV can also degrade or bleach colored fabric over time.
Kill the Mildew Dead
When you’re ready to get rid of the mildew that is left on your gear, your best bet is to use an enzyme cleaner like MiraZyme which will kill the mildew, clean the item, and eliminate the mildew smell. Mirazyme contain enzymes and microbes that kill mildew and eliminate odors. It’s also commonly used on wet suits, Gore-tex dry suits, and sandals to remove bad smells and funk.
1. To use MiraZyme, fill your bathtub or a plastic container with water and add 1/2 ounce (two capfulls) for each 20 gallons of water. Keep the water luke warm – not too hot and not too cold.
2. Dip the mildewed item in the MiraZyme solution and let it soak for 15 minutes. For backpacks, open all of the zippers and compartments so they get soaked. The same with sleeping bags, bivy sacks, tent bodies, technical jackets, sweaters, etc. You can also fill a spray bottle with the MiraZyme solution and spray it onto the item, soaking the affected area. Dipping is preferable over using a washing machine because the agitation is likely to tear delicate items or ones with lots of straps. Dunk the itema few times to make sure that all the trapped air escapes and that all of its surfaces get wet.
3. Soak in the MiraZyme solution for 15 minutes.
4. Remove the item and drip dry. DO NOT RINSE!
It’s an astonishingly simple process and one which often eliminates all trace of the mildew from an item permanently, and because MiraZyme comes in a highly concentrated form, one bottle lasts a long time.
Disclosure: Philip Werner (SectionHiker.com) purchased this bottle of MiraZyme with his own funds.
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